The chief executive of Eli Lilly has been speaking about the need to fix the “broken” engine of biopharma innovation and reverse the “loss of trust in product safety and in the honesty of pharmaceutical businesses”.

Speaking a day after opening the Lilly Biotechnology Center-San Diego, John Lechleiter said there is a need to "reinvent innovation". He added that “at a time when the world desperately needs more new medicines - for everything from H1N1 to Alzheimer's disease – we're taking too long, spending too much and producing far too little”.

Dr Lechleiter went on to say that “repowering pharmaceutical innovation is an urgent need not only for our company and our industry but for our nation”, saying that “we remain dependent on a society that welcomes and values new ideas, and public policy that enables innovation to be rewarded for the value it creates. But we also know that we need to change”.

He claimed that despite its value, the biopharma industry “is losing its advantage and wasting its potential”. Noting the problem of a lack in trust in drugmakers, the Lilly chief also bemoaned a “risk-averse policy and regulatory environment that has led to high hurdles for new medicines” and the pressures of the healthcare system, “where the industry has become an attractive target for policy makers looking for cost savings”.

However prescription drugs account for only 10% of healthcare spending, Dr Lechleiter said, but he said that “instead of wasting time complaining about these external pressures”, biopharma companies must change the way they develop new medicines.

He spoke about the three ‘C’s that can revitalise innovation, namely collaboration (with other large and small enterprises and with academics and government researchers), competency (employing tools to take advantage of “the explosion of knowledge in human biology”) and culture (“putting patients and improved outcomes at the centre of research from the very beginning of the drug development process”).

Dr Lechleiter concluded by saying that “reinventing biopharmaceutical R&D” would help regain the public's trust, address the concerns of regulators and demonstrate to policymakers the value that innovative medicines can and must play”.